Key in­gre­di­ents

Some of New Zealand’s top foodies in­vite us into their home kitchens, re­veal their must-have sta­ples and share ideas and tips with Britt Mann.

Sunday Star-Times - Sunday Magazine - - FOOD -

Home cook and author Annabel Langbein splits her time be­tween houses in Wanaka and Auck­land. She is pic­tured in her Re­muera, Auck­land, kitchen. I couldn’t live with­out lemons, gar­lic or gin­ger. And hav­ing a lit­tle ar­moury of sauces means I can change the flavours in a dish re­ally eas­ily.

This is the third or fourth kitchen I’ve de­signed. Right next to the hob, I have these big pull-out draw­ers where I have all my sauces and oils. And on the other side I have draw­ers with all the spices. All my flavour­ings are close to hand.

In the freezer I keep things like ba­con, and in the fridge I al­ways have parme­san cheese.

If I want a quick pasta meal I can grab a can of ar­ti­chokes and fry off some ba­con and throw in sea­sonal veg­eta­bles – whether it’s broc­coli or spinach – and lots of parme­san cheese.

If I’ve in­vited peo­ple for din­ner and only re­mem­bered at the last minute, I stop at the fish shop and get a re­ally fresh piece of fish.

I’ll put on some rice the minute I get in the door and then I’ll mar­i­nate the fish – whether it’s a quick home­made teriyaki sauce or just sweet Thai chilli sauce with a bit of fish sauce and lime zest through it as a glaze. Or I might put Moroc­can spices on top.

You flash-roast the fish in a re­ally hot oven for 10 min­utes. It makes it so easy. If I’ve gone for Asian flavours I’ll have some bok choy or spinach or if it’s Moroc­can I will have made some cous­cous and put in cherry toma­toes, cu­cum­ber and flaked al­monds. And I’ll serve it on a plat­ter, so it feels abun­dant.

There’s an in­gre­di­ent which we find more and more as New Zealand be­comes more mul­ti­cul­tural – bela­can, which is a dried shrimp paste. It’s grey and in­cred­i­bly un­ap­petis­ing but has the abil­ity to con­fer won­ders to your sauces and your stir-fry meals, adding this lovely depth of umami flavour.

I al­ways try and have some yummy cheese in my fridge, and a nice glass of wine. I love goat’s cheese, but un­less it’s run­ning off a bus and onto the pave­ment, I can eat pretty much any­thing.

My kitchen in Wanaka is kind of my dream kitchen and I don’t think I got any­thing wrong there. In my kitchen in Auck­land, what I like is that I can stand at the bench and look out the win­dow at the gar­den.

It’s slightly con­tem­pla­tive – you can cre­ate these lit­tle mo­ments in your life, whether you’re stand­ing there with a cup of cof­fee or chop­ping some onions. It gives you some space to think. Langbein will be host­ing cook­ing demon­stra­tions at The Food Show in Christchurch, Welling­ton and Auck­land this year. Her 25th book, Es­sen­tial: Best Ever Meals for Busy Lives, is out now.

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